For the love of hometown
Historian and author Gene Horton with his newest book.

SCN/Finnegan

For the love of hometown

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
12/28/2017


BLUE POINT—Gene Horton is a local fixture in the Bayport-Blue Point area. The retired teacher has been active in a number of organizations, is an honorary member of the local fire department, and has spent many years documenting historical vignettes that have appeared in a neighborhood publication, the Bayport-Blue Point Gazette. And now he has self-published many of his articles in a book entitled, “Yester-Years…A Glimpse of the Past in Bayport & Blue Point, Long Island, New York.” 

Horton’s monthly history column had been focused on keeping his neighbors in tune to what the area was like years ago. He is, after all, a nearly lifelong resident of the community.

“My family was originally from Brooklyn and we had a summer house in Blue Point,” he said, noting that they relocated to the area in 1948 when he was only 6 years old. 

He attended St. Lawrence School in Sayville and then Seton Hall High School in Patchogue, before heading to Providence College in Rhode Island. Horton was then a middle school social studies teacher at the East Moriches School until his retirement in 1997.

Since that time, the world traveler has concentrated on expanding his knowledge of local history, becoming quite the expert who has shared information at various presentations to historical societies, school groups and libraries and has published five other books on the area. He said sharing the information is critical since people might know about various places or people, but not the history connected to them.

For instance, he noted that the sphinx that’s now situated on Montauk Highway in Bayport, surprising passersby, is actually 1/7 the size of the original it was modeled after in Gaza.

“It was built in 1910 and stood outside of the Anchorage Inn (a motel on Montauk Highway). It was put out to attract customers,” he said.

He noted that a Blue Point automobile repair shop building was moved to Middle Road in the 1920s. That building is now Flo’s eatery.

And then there’s the story about Blue Point oysters. “Blue Point used to be famous for oysters,” Horton said. “Now it’s famous for beer (Blue Point Brewing Company). The younger generation doesn’t seem to know about oysters, but they do know about beer,” he facetiously remarked.

He said that everyone in Bayport and Blue Point knows the name James Wilson Young because of the school with that name. “But no one knows who he was,” Horton said. “They know about Flo’s, but no one knows who she was.”

Information about both can be found in this book.

Horton said he hopes to continue connecting his neighbors to that history, because without it, he noted, “It would be community amnesia. That would be a big loss if you don’t know anything about your [past].”

The book is available for purchase at Bayport-Blue Point Public Library, Bayport Flower Houses and Brinkmann True Value Hardware located in Sayville and Blue Point.